Marketing Intelligence and Related Concepts

Marketing Intelligence and Related Concepts 

Information is an important resource in an organization since it helps the organization in achieving competitive advantage. Information is needed to be considered and managed properly in the organization to keep pace with the contemporary developments in different areas of the organizational functioning. In the present-day scenario, organizations face challenges of expanding markets and product diversity, the rapid development of information technology, and fierce competition in its market. Hence, it is required that the organizational management deals with information and manages it correctly through the application of the system of marketing intelligence (MI) for the purpose of adopting a strategy to get a distinct competitive position in the market, and also for addressing to all the issues which are faced for the achievement of competitive position in the market.

Customer is the strategic and pivotal factor in the organization, and hence the directing of the goals of the strategies and sources is needed to be around the customer-attracting and keeping pivot. One of the important tools, apparatus, and methods for identifying and finding the customers’ needs and increasing their loyalty is marketing intelligence. Marketing intelligence consists of a series of people, processes, and equipment which play a key role in analyzing the environment around the organization and help the organizational management to adopt effective decisions and strategies by presenting the information to the management.

Marketing intelligence is that information which is relevant to the regular market of the organization. It is specifically collected and analyzed since it becomes a consideration for accurate decision making. So far, it is the actual information in determining the market penetration strategy, market opportunities, market development, and the level of competitive competition. Hence, marketing intelligence is indispensable when the organization decides to enter the export market.

The concept of marketing intelligence is the part of organizational strategy, which is formed as an effort to increase the organizational competitive abilities and strategic programming processes. Marketing intelligence is carried out as a background study for strategic programming. It is done for improving the competitive power of the organization and for the processing of its strategic plans. The marketing intelligence is to prevent the surprises and the employees’ inability to react to the environmental changes and to reduce and minimize the organizational exposure to danger.

Marketing intelligence is a term which is widely used, widely misunderstood, and frequently mistaken for a mysterious art needing high-level detective work. Marketing intelligence is sometimes confused with competitive intelligence. The latter is a more specific term, referring specifically to information about the organizational competitors. In order to understand how the marketing intelligence can potentially benefit the organization, it is necessary to define the term.

Wikipedia defines it as ‘market Intelligence is the information relevant to a company’s markets, gathered and analyzed specifically for the purpose of accurate and confident decision-making in determining market opportunity, market penetration strategy, and market development metrics’.

The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) defines it as ‘the legal and ethical collection and analysis of information regarding the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and intentions of a business competitor’.

Lilien defines marketing intelligence as a ‘technology-enabled and model-supported approach to harness customer and market data to improve marketing decision-making’. This definition emphasizes the positive impact of using marketing intelligence on the decision-making process of the organization.

As a broad concept, marketing intelligence consists of external factors of a potential market such as technology, competition, regulations, and other environmental forces which can influence present and future customer needs and preferences. Marketing intelligence comprises of a wide range of intelligence from politics and economics to cultures and sociology. Information on the political-economic and social-cultural aspects is crucial for the organization to make strategic decisions when penetrating new markets. Traditional sources of market intelligence are surveys, sales reports, discussion with customers, market study, and so on. Nowadays, open sources which are referred to unclassified, non-secret, non-indexed sources (e.g., weblogs, and white-papers etc.) are also useful to collect market intelligence since they are inexpensive and easy to access.

In simple terms, market intelligence is the information which is gathered for the purpose of taking marketing decisions. It is largely synonymous with market study, the systematic gathering, recording, analysis and interpretation of information about the organizational markets, competitors and customers. In the present-day scenario, the market study is much more focused on improving the quality of organizational decision-making. In practice, marketing intelligence is designed to help the organization in establishing a foothold in a market, or increase its presence in a market. As such, typical areas covered under marketing intelligence are (i) routes to market analysis, (ii) market size calculations, (iii) competitor analysis, (iv) substitute products (or services) analysis, and (v) market growth predictions, In short, marketing intelligence is the information about the organizational external market environment.

Basically, the use of marketing intelligence can provide positive benefits for the user organization. Some of these benefits include analysis of customer behaviour, predictions of sales, financial budgets needed, optimization of operational performance, and risk analysis. Customer behaviour becomes something which is considered important for the organization in an effort to market its products. By carrying out the act of analyzing customer behaviour, the organization can gain knowledge and understand what to do with the product. Producing products is to be at least done based on market demand. So, someone needs to understand what the customers want, so they can produce products which suit the needs and desires of the customers. After all, a product is certainly more easily accepted by the market if it is needed.

Marketing intelligence is also a system which can be useful for the organization to determine different steps and efforts in terms of product sales or marketing. With this system, the organization can carry out marketing activities which are right on target. For the achievement of the right results, the organization is required to be able to predict the sales process which is to be carried out. The product sales process certainly plays an important role in marketing of the product. The right sale process creates the product demand in the market so that appropriate results can be achieved by the organization.

Marketing intelligence is based on data. Basic elements of marketing intelligence are 5Cs namely company, competitor, consumer, customer, and context (Fig 1a). These elements are used for the generation of data. Under company includes analysis of hard data, and market shares etc. Under competitors includes primary and secondary market studies. Under consumer includes market and opinion studies. Under customer includes satisfaction study, internal DTBs (data tree blobs), and data-mining. Under context includes analysis of consumer behaviour and macro-economic impacts. Types of data which are to be generated are external and internal data, as well as hard (operational results) and soft data (market study). Principle of marketing intelligence cycle consist of planning, data collection, data analysis, and taking of action (Fig 1b).

Fig 1 Basic elements of marketing intelligence and marketing intelligence cycle

Marketing intelligence refers to the systematic collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about the organizational market environment. It helps the organization to understand its market environment and to develop effective marketing strategies for entering and competing in the market-place. It provides critical information about customer behaviour, product demand, pricing, distribution channels, and marketing communication strategies. Organizations can use both primary and secondary data sources for marketing intelligence, including surveys, interviews, focus groups, market reports, and on-line search. Primary data sources involve collecting data directly from customers, competitors, and other stake-holders, while secondary data sources involve using existing data sources like market reports and government statistics etc.

Organizations use marketing intelligence to develop a comprehensive understanding of the market environment, which also includes cultural and social norms, economic conditions, legal and regulatory requirements, and competitive factors. Effective marketing intelligence needs careful planning, data collection, analysis, and interpretation.

Marketing intelligence can help the organization (i) to develop effective marketing strategies which take into account cultural and social differences, market conditions, and customer preferences in different regions, (ii) to identify emerging market trends for adapting to changing market conditions, (iii) to assess the effectiveness of the marketing strategies for taking informed decisions about future marketing initiatives, (iv) to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors for developing effective competitive strategies, (v) to assess the potential risks and challenges associated with entering new markets and developing effective risk management strategies, (vi) to identify and evaluate potential partners, suppliers, and distributors in different regions, (vii) to develop effective pricing strategies which take into account market conditions, customer preferences, and competitive factors, (viii) to develop effective product positioning strategies which take into account cultural and social norms, market conditions, and customer preferences in different regions, and (ix) to develop effective distribution strategies which take into account logistics, transportation, and local distribution channels.

Marketing intelligence is a necessary tool for the organization which has a desire to succeed in the market-place. It helps in developing effective marketing strategies which meet the needs and preferences of the target customers in different regions. It can be perceived as the process of gathering information on customers, competitors, markets, and industry and then it is applied into strategic marketing plans. Hence, it enables the organization to accelerate the transformation through product innovation, customer identification, and market demand forecasting.

Market intelligence is normally carried out by internal resources of the organization. It is normally managed in-house, frequently in an informal fashion, but increasingly with the assistance of information technology (IT)-based market intelligence systems. Competitive intelligence is a specific type of market intelligence.

Business intelligence (BI) – Business intelligence is also a term which is frequently used inter-changeably with the term marketing intelligence, though incorrectly. Business intelligence refers to all of the information used by the organization for the purpose of decision-making, but tends to refer to data relating to the organization itself, rather than its market environment. Hence, business intelligence includes sales data, production data, and financial data, and tends to be collected internally.  Business intelligence is normally closely related to organizational KPIs (key performance indicators).

Business intelligence has become increasing popular in the past years. The use of business intelligence and analytics can be helpful since the organization creates higher value out of its data assets and hence is more likely to out-perform its competitors. Business intelligence and analytics can be defined as a ‘unified term to describe information-intensive concepts and methods for improving business decision-making’. Davenport considers business intelligence as a concept which ‘encompasses a wide variety of processes and software used to collect, analyze, and disseminate data, all in the interest of better decision-making’. Additionally, Wixom and Watson have acknowledged that business intelligence is ‘an umbrella term that is commonly used to describe the technologies, applications, and processes for gathering, storing, accessing, and analyzing data to help users make better decisions’. As per Sabanovic and Soilen, business is a concept which encompasses processes, tools, and techniques to make decision-making processes in businesses faster and more effective.

The different definitions of business intelligence make it clear that it improves the decision-making in an organization. Business intelligence provides tools and techniques (e.g., data visualization) which are used to explore past business data in order to develop new insights into the performance of the organization. The goal of using business intelligence is to inform the management about the health of the organization and to explain what to expect in the future.

Organizations are constantly looking for new ways to achieve and sustain a competitive advantage. In the past years, business intelligence has become important for the organizations which want to be and stay competitive. In 2010, business intelligence has been the fifth most important technical priority. Although the use of business intelligence has grown over the past years, majority of the organizations still use traditional technology and the spread-sheets are the most used tool for business intelligence. Moreover, business intelligence tends to be used within departments or organizational units and not across the whole organization. Hence, intuition is still the driving force in decision-making. Besides this, the implementation of business intelligence is frequently seen as difficult and challenging.

In contrast to business intelligence, there are several benefits of using marketing intelligence with the main benefit being improvement in overall decision-making. However, McKinsey and Company found that only 10 % of the marketing personnel of large international organizations are using marketing intelligence on a regular basis. In one of the studies, it has been found that only 16 % of the marketing personnel are using marketing intelligence. These low numbers imply that several marketing personnel are not convinced about the benefits of using marketing intelligence. Also, majority of the organizations focus on the business intelligence and analytics, which shows that there is a lack of knowledge about the values which can be created with the use of marketing intelligence.

However, there can be some difficulties in measuring the actual outcome of any of the implemented intelligence systems. If this is the case, the overall outcome can be used to measure the effectiveness of the intelligence systems. Use of business and marketing intelligence systems can result in considerable value and competitive advantage for the organization when it is deeply embedded in several organizational processes. It can influence performance and create a sustainable competitive advantage for the organization. The intelligence systems can have several other advantages besides timely decision-making. One of the benefits is the increased efficiency and productivity of the organization. The results show that the intelligence systems have an impact on return of investment since they offer a cost and time-saving method to gather business-related and marketing-related informations.

However, success with intelligence systems needs additional conditions. For an intelligence system to be successful, organizational management is required to believe in and to drive the use of it. Hence, the management is required to provide the necessary resources and insist on the use of data-driven decision-making. Moreover, the use of intelligence systems is to be part of the organizational culture. Also, the organization is required to have high-quality data since the employees do not rely on or accept data if they do not trust it.

Market intelligence can be used to assist with more or less every decision faced by the organization. The over-riding purpose of market intelligence, however, is to help the organization grow i.e., to increase revenue, profit, and market share. Hence, good market intelligence system can have a huge return on investment. Amounts spent on market intelligence system can generate or save several times the invested amount in the form of extra revenue or the avoidance of loss because of a bad decision.

Besides supporting the organization in decision-making, intelligence systems have other advantages. The use of intelligence systems can lead to reduced costs, increased revenues. and increased profit margins. An intelligence system does not only lead to better and more efficient decision-making processes, but also influences the entire organization by improving its return on investment, hire the best employees, and gain new customers and suppliers. Because of the intelligence system, organizational personnel have a better understanding of the organization and the environment in which it operates. The intelligence system leads to information gathering which is used for the development of strategic plans. These strategic plans allow the organization to attract the best employees, target and reach customers in a better way and, in turn, achieve very high return on investment. Hence, intelligence systems have a positive impact on the organizational performance.

The essence of marketing intelligence and related concepts – It can be assumed that marketing intelligence is at the same time a kind of old and new concept. The concept came into existence when the first entrepreneur decided to implement the idea of systematical gathering information on the structure of the organization. But it has been at the end of the previous century when the development of marketing intelligence accelerated rapidly, and this concept began to appear in the horizon.

All the organizations which function in a competitive environment need and have always needed information what the market wants, what products and services customers expect as well as what competition offers. The objective is to strive to gain a competitive advantage. However, activities in the area of marketing intelligence are sometimes perceived in a narrow sense and are limited to ‘keeping an eye’ on the competition and activities are undertaken randomly by the marketing personnel of the organization. Presently, the conditions of the global economy impose a necessity to implement systematic programmes of collecting information. Information is to be adjusted to a functional area of the organization (e.g., finance, marketing, or human resource management etc.) as well as to a function and level of management.

Every decision-making level in the organization needs an inflow of specific information at the right time. Because of an increasing need for precise and adequate operational information which is reported not only at the level of top management, but virtually at every level of the organization, marketing intelligence plays an important role in the organizational development. It needs to be stressed here that for the recent past, there has been a considerable change in supply of information and decision makers today are to struggle with a risk of information disconnection caused not by the lack of information, but by the lack of time to analyze and differentiate available information.

Management is functioning today in the environment of over-abundance of information. Today it frequently has problems to identify which information is really important. The so-called ‘information gap’ which has been observed until recently has been transformed into frequently over-abundance of irrelevant information. This has brought information pollution. What proves crucial in this situation is not only that an information resource is available but also there is an ability to select, assess, and use it. It is estimated that only 20 % of information which reaches management concerns key issues of the organization and in 80 % of it is useful in decision making for influencing the results of the activities. That is why, among others, marketing intelligence today occupies a position comparable to other professional supportive functions in the organizations such as risk management, public relations, or outsourcing.

Marketing intelligence in its essence is a process of continuous getting information from different sources, their evaluation, and then using it while making organizational decisions. It can be defined as a programme of activities targeted at collecting information about market players and strategic problems and subsequently, processing it into observations and knowledge supporting decision-making processes in the organization. Marketing intelligence activities play a key role in generating knowledge about the market, building competitiveness, and organizational development while helping the organization at the same time to understand the environment in which it functions, to compete successfully in this environment and as a result, to achieve growth in its activities.

Marketing intelligence is an intelligence system which is specifically used for the purpose of marketing the organizational products. It consists of getting important marketing information which can be referred to as an intelligent way of gathering that information which can be used in marketing function of the organization. Marketing analytics involves collection, management, and analysis (descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive) of data to get insights into marketing performance, to maximize the effectiveness of instruments of marketing control, and to optimize the organization’s return on investment.

Some marketing personnel argue that the use of marketing intelligence does not lead to improved organizational performance since it can slow down the organizational activities which leads to market opportunities not being seized by the analytics-oriented organization. However, majority of the marketing personnel believe that there is positive impact on the organizational performance because of the use of marketing intelligence. A study has given an example of an organization which has increased its customer base with more than 55 % and its profitability has multiplied four times during the first few years after the implementation of a marketing intelligence system. Because of its marketing intelligence system, the organization has been able to answer its most important marketing questions such as when, to whom, and how often. Another study has examined the impact of a marketing intelligence system and concluded that the use of marketing intelligence system has led to a better customer understanding and to better ways of reaching the customers.

The underlying theme of the above examples is that the use of marketing intelligence allows the organization to develop products and services which meet customers’ needs and wants. Because of the use of marketing intelligence, marketing personnel know which of the marketing campaigns is going to be successful and which is not going to. Moreover, they can use analytical data to develop new and better ways for marketing campaigns in the future. They can, for example, simplify processes to increase customer response or analyze which keywords are most used and which keywords lead the customers attracted towards organizational products and services. One study describes marketing intelligence as applications which can increase organizational profitability, reduce customer attrition, and increase the response rate of e-mail marketing campaigns.

Marketing intelligence is required in all the phases of the process of customer involvement. During the awareness process, it focuses on getting to know the potential customer. It is important to know the demographics of the potential customers and how they get in contact with the organization and its products. Moreover, the organization is required to know why the potential customers are interested in the product and whether they need additional information. Based on this information, marketing intelligence can be used to qualify and target the potential customers with the right offers. The last step in this process consists of the final purchase outcome which is to be recorded by the data.

Informations needed from marketing intelligence normally cover four basic areas namely (i) information about a product, (ii) information about the competition, (iii) information about the market, and (iv) information about the customers. Information about a product refers to knowledge about products available on the market which the organization supports and which concerns its tactical marketing activities such as a pricing policy or a promotional action applied for the products (both, its own and rival products).

The area of information about competition comprises understanding of competitors’ strategy, investments and development plans, organizational structure, and the portfolio of present and future products. Information concerning the market comprises its picture at a macro-economic level as well as determination of the market size and its segments, trends concerning market shares, development trends and forecasts for the market growth. The area of information about customers is associated with understanding preferences of buyers and reasons for their behaviour and opinions which can influence their actions and an attitude to products or services of the organization as well as studies on brand awareness, level of satisfaction, customer loyalty, and dynamics of sales. Each of the mentioned areas can be a separate area for analysis, however, the essence of marketing intelligence is rooted in combining information so that a complete picture of the market can be created.

In order to present a complex picture of the market in which the organization functions, and which comprises first of all its customers and competition as well as conditions for a growth potential for new products and services, marketing intelligence takes advantage of several sources of information. Sources of data for this type of analysis include sales journals, findings of conducted surveys, social media search and several others. Information can also be collected from industry associations, state institutions, or by visiting a website or competitors’ sales outlets, as well as finding information published in the press about the number and types of potential customers.

Marketing intelligence also comprises checking commentaries made by customers which are passed on through the Internet and collecting information which can help the organization to improve its offer. While gathering knowledge about the market, several organizations apply advanced analyses forgetting that a potential source of valuable data are customers. Even small organizations can create resources of knowledge about buyers in an efficient and cheap way (customer intelligence). A potential source of valuable information is also analytical e-commerce systems which allow to track buyers’ behaviour on an organizational website e.g., to get information about how many people visit a website, where they come from, what the subsequent steps after entering a website are, how many of them reach the stage of purchase of the product and how many leave the website without making a transaction. In order to create the most complete picture of the market, specialists of marketing intelligence also collect data while communicating with producers, distributors, and all intermediaries engaged in a process of creating products and making them available. This kind of dialogue and statistical data and results of marketing search constitute a crucial part of the marketing intelligence system.

The purpose of marketing intelligence is constantly evolving. Tab 1 shows the key purposes of marketing intelligence, and the type of marketing intelligence study which is typically used to meet the requirements.

Tab 1 The purposes of marketing intelligence
 PurposeType of study for meeting the purpose
Help enter new market, or expand presence in a marketMarket entry and market expansion studies
Minimize the risk of an investment decision being wrongMarket assessment or acquisition studies
Keep ahead of the competition, obtain first-mover advantage over competitorsCompetitor intelligence study
Give the customers what they want, expand market shareNeeds assessment studies
Establish and maintain a distinctive corporate identityCorporate positioning studies
Tailor products and marketing effort around customer needsSegmentation studies

Marketing personnel need insights about their customers and the market-place. Insights cannot be gained without proper information. The organization collects, develops, and manages information about important market-place elements like customers, competitors, products, and marketing programmes. Organization is required to have the capabilities to convert the information into fresh customer insights. The insights help the organization to understand its customers, to engage them in a better way, and to deliver higher value to them. The organization is able to offer good products and marketing programmes when it collects relevant customer information and analyzes the information properly. Again, the organization is not be able to provide its customers with better services unless it has updated the relevant information about competitors, resellers, and other agencies and market-place forces.

Powerful customer and market insights can be generated only after collection of proper marketing information. The information is to be relevant and updated. The information is processed to generate marketing intelligence. Relevant and updated marketing information and marketing intelligence help the organization in generating appropriate customer and market insights. Here lies the importance of collecting marketing information and generating marketing intelligence.

The importance of collecting relevant marketing information, analyzing the information, and generating marketing intelligence and relevant customer insights for the organization cannot be over-emphasized. A thorough analysis of the connections among marketing information, marketing intelligence, and customer insights is needed.

The concept of intelligence and marketing intelligence improves the performance of the organization since the marketing intelligence is one of the important strategic agents of the organization and is the key to its success in market. Today the concept of the intelligence is considered as a process which improves the competitiveness and the strategic programming. Today the third wave of the changes in the business world has started, in which, no doubt, the marketing intelligence is it base. Normally, the organization is to face several environmental changes. Changes are happening so fast that, if the organization does not prepare itself, its survival becomes in danger. A new tool which helps the organization to reach a suitable place in the present-day environment is the use of marketing intelligence. The agents or factors which have effect on the marketing intelligence are given below.

Personal factors – Personal factors represents potential of the organizational personnel and the real customers. These factors are strategic and effective factors for marketing intelligence. As per the views of the specialists on the marketing intelligence, personal factors are age, income, job situation, willingness to risk, past experiences, and technical knowledge etc. Organizations have found that sales affect the customer’s behaviour and it is beyond the promotion, pricing, and packaging issues. Producers and stockists have found that it is beneficial to both sides to design the purchasing environments in such a manner which contribute to customers’ requirements and help them to change their thinking towards purchase. The new focus on purchase process has led to two new processes in the marketing intelligence studies. The first process is about the higher use of observational and cognitive ethnicity studies.

Marketing personnel have found that by observing the customers’ buying behaviour, it is possible to identify the issues which are to be corrected for improving the customers’ convenience and creating enjoyable purchases. The second process, through the marketing studies, is to use the computer apparatus to look for the customer’s behaviour in traditional environments and e-buying places. Unlike the traditional studies which can be time consuming and subjective, the computer studies provide reliable tool and performance for gathering and analyzing the data through the customer’s purchasing process.

Organizational factors – These factors are internal to the functioning of the organization. These factors are related to the organizational culture which is reflected in the employees’ behaviour and their accountability through the organizational issues. These factors include the organizational stories and fictions, work flow in the organization, symbols, delegation of power, organizational structure, and control system. The set of behaviours and the organizational culture determine the internal environment of the organization to which the marketing intelligence specialists pay more attention. The organization which is a strong and efficient organization, creates a marketing intelligence and promotion system with the needed flexibility for reacting to the environmental changes and evolution.

Meta-organizational factors – Meta-organizational factors are the useful starting function points for the specialists of the marketing intelligence. These are demographic discussions, size, structure, and the population growth which has an important effect on the demand. The population growth is the most important reason since there is a strong relationship between population and economic growth and the boundary between potential demand and de-facto demand. In this regard, the marketing intelligence specialists are required to pay attention to such factors as population explosion, decline in the rate of birth, age of population, changes in family structures (e.g., delayed marriage, number of children, and rate of working women), increase in the level of education, and increase in the ratio of urban population to rural population.

Technological environment is the important force which shapes the people’s lives. Technological developments can have effect on products, services, markets, the supplier organizations (e.g., which supply raw materials), and rival organizations’ customers, production process and their method of marketing. These technological environmental factors are required to be paid attention by the marketing intelligence specialists.

The organization normally does not incur major costs and it normally waits for the time when the financial and marketing conditions have created the conditions for the organization to incur the needed costs. In the present-day scenario, the changes in technology are continuing at a rapid rate. The life cycle of the products is becoming shorter with development of the new technology. The marketing intelligence specialists are required to consider these factors.

The computational environment of the organization is another factor which creates meta-organizational environment. The organization is required to know who are its rival organizations, and how much capacity they have. Hence, the marketing intelligence specialists are to know that they are not only to focus on the hardware factors such as the size of organization, economic sources, and the production capacity etc., but they are also to focus on software factors such the managing styles, the priority of organization, the rate of commitment to the special markets, and the organizational goals etc. For getting this information, the marketing intelligence specialists are to concentrate on such factors as the real and correct concept of the organization about the rival organizations’ merits and faults, getting the comprehensive view about the rival organizations’ last, present and future strategies, and comparing and improving the marketing and the other organizational strategies against the strategies of the rival organizations.

Customer loyalty – Keeping old customers attached to the organizational products and bringing new customers on board are prime objectives of the marketing personnel. Loyalty of the customers is one of the requirements for the organization for achieving the sales target. For ensuring that the customers remain loyal to the organization on a long-term basis, it is necessary that the organization not only meets all the requirements of the customers but also go beyond it. Keeping and maintaining the customer loyal to the organization, the pre-requisites are ethical dealing, providing good and high value service, courteous behaviour of the marketing personnel with the customers, since it costs lesser to the organization than cost of attracting new customers. The benefits of the customer loyalty are (i) decreased costs of attracting customers, (ii) decreasing the sensitivity of the customers for changes and prices, (iii) increased profits because of the long association of the customers, (iv) increase in the future foreseeing power of the management, and (v) increase in the barriers for entering new competitors. Marketing intelligence helps marketing personnel to know where the organization stand with respect to customer loyalty. In case of lower customer loyalty, it becomes essential that necessary corrective actions are taken in procedures dealing with product marketing and providing services to the customers.

Shopping continuity – The important factors which are necessary for getting customer loyalty are to build up customer satisfaction, so that they can have trust in the organization. This can be done by the responsible and ethical behaviour of marketing personnel. Satisfaction is a prerequisite for loyalty. Satisfied customers continue purchase of the organizational products and tend to lesser purchase of the competitor’s products. Hence, it is the part of the job of the marketing personnel to work in the direction of getting customer loyalty. However, it is to be noted that the increasing the rate of the customer satisfaction is not the same as the increasing the rate of the customer loyalty, i.e., the relationship between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty is not a linear relationship. Contribution of satisfaction is only around 37 % towards customer loyalty. A satisfied customer can also purchase the competitor’s product since customer is also satisfied with the competitor’s product but a loyal customer always gives preference for the organizational product over competitor’s product.

Trust – When the customers believe in the capabilities of the organization for meeting the requirements of the products which they need then they develop trust in the organization and start considering the organization as a reliable organization. At the same time, the organization is to ensure that this trust is maintained and is not broken.  The trust is an important criterion in the marketing of the products. The trust is frequently defined as a one-side-belief relation for being other side’s reliable statements and guarantees. In another definition, the trust is considered to be as the customer’s strong and stable belief in selling organization, which indicates the selling organization acts in such a manner so that the customer is ensured of getting the reliable products. Marketing personnel are to continuously work for not only gaining the customer trust but maintaining it on a long-term basis.

Commitment – It is the relationship between the parties of the exchange. Commitment between organization and the customer explain their relationship. Commitment takes place when both the parties (customer and organization) promise to fulfill the terms of relationship. Under this relationship, the organization promises to provide the customer the products as per the contracted quantity and specifications, while the customer promises to pay the contracted price for the supplies. In case of loyalty, commitment reflects long time stable relationship. The customer’s loyalty is a deep commitment to the renewed purchases, and a further and constant customer of a product or a preferred service.

Marketing intelligence system model – Market intelligence refers to the way procuring and dissecting data with a specific end goal to understand the market both existing and potential customers in order to decide the present and future needs and inclinations, states of mind and conduct of the market, and to evaluate changes in the market environment which can influence the size and nature of the market later on. It is an industry-focused insight which is created on constant (dynamic) parts of aggressive occasions occurring among the 4Ps (product, price, place, and promotion) of the marketing mix (evaluating, place, advancement, and item) of the item or administration commercial centre keeping in mind the end goal to better understand the engaging quality of the market. It helps in market and customer introduction to advance outer focus, recognizable proof of new open doors in order to distinguish new patterns in the market sectors and competitors.

Marketing intelligence system model is an analytical model which focuses on the pre-determined objectives of the role of marketing intelligence for corporate sustainability. It consists of carrying out several activities and critical evaluation of the outcomes of these activities. Fig 2 presents the marketing intelligence system model. This model is used for funds planning for the different activities needed for marketing analysis.

Fig 2 Marketing intelligence system model

Through promoting insight, the organization can get early cautioning of competitor moves and in this manner the organization demonstrates appropriately to guarantee that they stay in front of the competitor. This aides in minimizing organizational hazards by identifying dangers and patterns early, better customer communication, get heightened customer market view better market choice and situating it empowers the organization to understand where their offer fits and find undiscovered or under-served potential market, more productive and practical data.

Keeping in mind the end goal to stay aggressive and remain in front of the opposition, the organization needs a well working market sector insight framework set up. This is accomplished through an arrangement of techniques and sources utilized by the management to get the regular data about appropriate advancements in the marketing environment. It includes a ceaseless and intelligent structure of individuals, hardware, and methodology to accumulate, sort, break-down and convey related, opportune and precise data for use by promoting the management to improve the marketing planning, usage, and control.

Concept of marketing intelligence – Marketing intelligence is everyday information about development in the marketing environment which helps the management to prepare and to adjust the marketing plans. The marketing intelligence system determines the intelligence needed and collecting same by searching the environment and delivering it to the marketing personnel who needs it. Marketing intelligence comes from diverse sources such as the organizational marketing personnel, engineers and quality control personnel, customers, and the sales manpower. But normally the marketing personnel are frequently busy and fail to pass on important functions to the management.

Organizations are required to convince the people on the importance of marketing intelligence since it gathers, spot new development and urge them to report intelligence back to the organization. Sometimes, in wide networking organization, the intelligence information is normally contracted to external agents or suppliers and at the extreme level ‘hidden hackers’ to break and capture for the organization all relevant information from their competitors for its effective utilization. However, marketing intelligence as an organizational strategy can perfectly work for the organization as well against the organization. Hence, organizations are to act fast and take every necessary step towards protecting themselves from the snooping of competitors.

Marketing intelligence components – There are several models which have attempted to clarify marketing intelligence components, and the model which has been developed by Crowley is considered the best amongst these models because of its incorporation of the most influential variables in the marketing environment, namely, customer, product, market, and competitors. These four components represent the basic elements upon which the organizations use in their making policies and strategies. Crowley has stated that ‘in its broadest sense, marketing intelligence is the capturing of information relevant to the organization’s markets’. In a more practical context, it is the gathering, analysis, and dissemination of information which is relevant to the market segments in which the organization participates, or wishes to participate in. This encompasses four important areas namely (i) competitor intelligence, (ii) product intelligence, (iii) market understanding, and (iv) customer understanding (Fig 3). Crowley has made explicit the fact that marketing intelligence officers need to provide a support role and this means that they are to have a good understanding of the market situation and know why specific information is needed.

Fig 3 Marketing intelligence framework

Product intelligence is defined as an automated system for gathering and analyzing intelligence about the performance of a product being designed and manufactured, such that this data is automatically fed back to the product managers and engineers designing the product, to assist them in the development of the next version of the product. The objective of the product intelligence is to accelerate the rate of product improvement, hence, making the product and the organization more competitive.

Product intelligence is normally defined from the perspective of intelligent products. Hence, product intelligence includes two dimensions namely information-handling, and decision-making. Further, the definition of product intelligence can be reshaped from the perspective of data mining. In this regard, product intelligence is the application of data mining techniques to exploit insights on products to increase customer satisfaction and identify marketing opportunities. The best way to satisfy customers’ needs is to listen to their opinions on products through customer reviews, discussions, attitudes on forums, social media, blogs, and websites. These are considered as big sources to approach customer feed-back and needs. Mining of user-generated content and web content allow the organization not only to develop suitable products for customer needs but also to recommend the right products to the right customers.

The reasons for the failure of new products is caused by the inability of several marketing personnel to adjust their own mentality with the minds of customers, and the reason for this mentality is the ignorance of the marketing personnel with customers because of their beliefs that customers do not know what they want. From reasoning perspective, no one can respond to the idea of a product or service without hearing about it and here is the need for multiple-turn from the fields of science. Marketing personnel are to gain a higher knowledge about customers and their behavioural thinking, and that means it is necessary to understand the dynamics of the conscious, and unconscious thinking of customers which is the ultimate commercial success. Perhaps the most famous words in the commercial world, which push the organization towards the understanding of their customers is ‘customer satisfaction’. For achieving customer satisfaction, the organization is to understand the requirements and needs of customers, and adopt production and marketing activities in a such manner which achieves customer satisfaction and happiness.

Marketing intelligence process increasingly provide the data which drive both strategic and tactical decision for the organization. Several organizations have already invested heavily to aggregate data from diverse system and applications in order to create a whole-organizational view to fully reflect the daily state of the organizational operations, as well as support more effective, informed decisions. A marketing intelligence process is a set of components, procedures, and data sources used by marketing personnel to go through information from the economic and market environment which they can use in their decision making. Also, there is a positive relationship between utilizing and adopting effective and efficient marketing intelligence and the right decision making.

Competitor-level analysis provides the organization with feature sources about competitors and how to compete in the markets. The information needed are organizational structure such as the total number of employees by their jobs, main customers by sales, key suppliers, market share and sales for each production line, production level and the organizational capacity, the types of scheduling and programmes of the organization, and channels of distribution systems etc.

Competitor intelligence has been defined as those activities by which an organization identifies and understands the competitors’ strength and weaknesses, and anticipates their moves. The focus on competitor tends to be on problems associated with the daily profitable marketing of the organization’s products or services. Competitor intelligence focuses on competitors, their plans, intentions, capabilities, and the present activities. The competitor intelligence provides rich and diverse information. It provides an inclusive description of the competitive environment as well as exhaustive competitor profiles covering items such as organizational needs, marketing strategies, investment plans, characteristics, financial data, views on supplier performance, expansion record, and much more.

Competitor intelligence is information on competitors’ products, prices, advertisements, and distribution channels. It is also defined as the ability of the organization to understand the strengths and weaknesses of its competitors. Hence, the organization can foresee its competitors’ moves and strategies and improve its performance. With an intent to get information on competitors, the organization can collect log data from e-commerce websites. Data on sale ranks, list price, customer rating, number of reviewers, and days released from e-commerce sites can be used to forecast. The data mining perspective from several market demand, estimate cost and price elasticity, and even studies to define marketing intelligence can be adopted as the application to evaluate the optimality of pricing strategies.

Nowadays, data mining models and techniques to exploit intelligence not only on texts but also on images can be mined for competitors’ markets, products, customers, and competitors’ products reputations. Properties of images such as definition is based on the marketing mix so that it covers all display formats, and image quality. The number of views can the important aspects which support marketing decisions, affect customers’ intention, stimulate trust, and improve the transaction rate.

Competitor Intelligence embraces the use of public sources to expand data on competition, and competitors. Identification of customer’s need is the first phase of competitive intelligence followed by the conversion of competitor strengths and weaknesses, estimation of likely activity and finally the determination of the organization’s own strengths and weaknesses.

Customer intelligence consists of data and information on needs, preferences, cultures, lifestyle, purchasing power, purchasing behaviours, customs and habits of potential customers. In the digital age, customer intelligence is first exploited in the form of web intelligence acquired and second exploited in the form of web intelligence acquired both from Internet Protocol searches through cookies and server logs. Web intelligence uncovering customers’ needs and detecting commercial opportunities can also be collected from web pages, e-commerce sites, and social media. Marketing personnel can analyze customer click-stream data logs on visit frequency, viewed items, and visit time on a website to understand customers’ browsing habits and purchasing behaviours. Organizations can exploit customer intelligence from internal sources such as billing records, organization’s weblogs, CRM (customer relationship management) system, and customer surveys etc. External sources of customer intelligence are look-ups for telephone number and address, social media, competitors’ websites, household hierarchies, customer reviews, and click-stream etc.

In the context of competitive threats, market opportunities are much easier to identify and implement, if only it does not concern the presence of existing and potential competitors. The competitors’ threats are being identified as ‘ways that a rival can constrain an organization’s strategy from succeeding in the market-place’. It shows how effective the information got by marketing intelligence in terms of competitor’s business processes (promotion, pricing, distribution, and production etc.) can serve in the present and future management plans of the organization. Every organization which clearly sees the future from now on and detects competitive threats in the market settings in advance has an undeniable competitive advantage over others. Hence, the marketing intelligence is needed to assess present and potential changes in competitors’ activities with regard to threatening consequences for their strategic activities. And also, the organization’s management is needed to be alerted to the present or potential threats posed by the present or potential competitors.

Marketing information review – Marketing intelligence is focused on the very current activities in the market-place. The organization can look it as it as the qualitative side of the quantitative data study which it has to conduct in several key customer markets such as consumer, project, commercial, government, and export. Marketing intelligence is the information relevant to the organizational markets, gathered and analyzed specifically for the purpose of accurate and confident decision-making in determining strategy in such areas as market opportunity, market penetration strategy, and market development.

Marketing personnel start by dividing the market into segments. They identify and profile distinct groups of customers who can prefer or need varying product and service mixes by examining demographic, psychographic, and behavioral differences among buyers. After identifying market segments, the marketing personnel decides the target markets which present the highest opportunities. The primary users of marketing intelligence are normally the marketing department, market development personnel, and the sales personnel. To a lesser degree, marketing intelligence serves those in market planning by providing retrospective data on the success and failure of the sales efforts.

Sales performance – Despite the several financial and non-financial isolated measures, marketing performance as a whole, translated into a clear and reliable universal instrument by which the respective merits can be evaluated, receives normally limited attention. Additionally, marketing as a discipline has focused more on results than on the processes and systems enabling them. Traditionally, marketing productivity analysis- mainly from efficiency perspective, and the marketing audit concept-mainly from effectiveness perspective, have dominated the approaches to marketing performance assessment. But neither of these two approaches by themselves provide a complete frame-work for an integrated evaluation, because of the conceptual and implementation limitations. Sales performance relates to the volume of offers accomplished inside a pre-defined period contrasted with pre-determined sales levels.

Accomplishing more noteworthy sale execution is the most essential part of sales pioneers as it specifically impacts on the key execution pointers. Sales performance has been conceptualized to incorporate both the result and behavioural measurements. Sales results have dependably been seen by execution situated sales representatives as proof to the behavioural execution and hence a positive relationship has been found to exist between occupation association segment of responsibility and sales performance. In today’s dynamic working business environment, organizations that depend on poor information to settle on key deals, sales commercial decisions, risk being rendered clumsy by the opposition. As organizations develop more idealism about open doors for development, the weight is on for sales personnel to meet ever-higher income targets.

Sales performance is the extent of the quantity of products sold or services sold in the regular operations of the organization in a specified period. It is the quantity of goods sold in number or quantity of units throughout the regular working times of the organization. Sales performance is the addition of a number of aspects consisting of returns, gross sales, delayed shipments, delayed billings, and credit memos. Subsequent directory of sales activities for victorious sales personnel are selling, entertainment, working with distributors being present at meetings, working with orders, servicing goods, servicing accounts, training and recruiting, travel, and communication. It is also mentioned that the performance procedures functioning at different times are not highly connected and the relations between different performance procedures are not powerful.

A different set of criteria mentioned by Campbell include elements which are customer relations, sales volume and ability to achieve quotas, management of expense accounts, organization knowledge and product understanding, customer information, competitor comprehension, and time management and planning. These elements are significant for sales performance. From another point of view, this checklist can be successfully summarized into four mainly objective performance measures such as yearly sales volume, customer relations, profit growth, and gross profit per sale. But, getting a considerable outcome through higher sales growth, sales volume, and profit is believed to be tricky for majority of the organizations, in that, customers frequently use price as quality signal. This makes it complicated to accomplish the perception of both high quality and low price which have a direct relation with the volume of sales, growth in sales, and profit. Fundamentally, evaluating performance is not to be confused with filing graphs or reports (reporting system) but instead seen as a process allowing phenomena understanding which progressively leads to better decisions and improved results (decision guiding system).

The importance is not so much the final quantitative score but the understanding of the situations which has led to such scores and hence what can be improved next time. On the other hand, competitiveness theory suggests that marketing performance is a process composed of three stages namely (i) it identifies superiority sources regarding the organizational resources and capabilities’ acquisition, implementation, and development, (ii) it evaluates superiority positions arising from designing and implementing marketing strategies, and (iii) it knows the financial and non financial outcomes as a consequence of the previous ones.

Link between marketing intelligence and sales performance – Different studies have attempted to link marketing intelligence with different performance measures in different sectors and regions with mixed findings. A study has sought to find out whether the sales performance of the organization is affected by the marketing intelligence. The effect of marketing intelligence on sales performance has been measured against the indicators namely sales volume, profitability, market share, the growth of customers, market share and premiums on product price. The findings of regression analysis have shown that marketing intelligence is strongly correlated to sales performance indicators.

Decision support system is a database designed to guide the marketing personnel to make a decision when need arises. Sales performance is determined by the effectiveness of the marketing carried out by the organization. Decision support system is used to collect data from internal and external sources to help the marketing personnel to take a decision on how to undertake marketing and improve the level of sales. Also, marketing personnel apply a decision support system to analyze the internal and external factors affecting marketing activities while setting the sales targets.

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